A Pebble's Pleasure

I have recently started a new hobby - Fossil hunting.

Undercliff walk - Brighton

It all started a couple of weeks ago, when Britain finally saw itself bathed in hot weather after several years covered in rain and cold winds.

Finally able to wear shorts and t-shirts and flip-flops, I decided to walk by the seafront, towards the Brighton Marina, as it is less crowded than the opposite direction. I have been waking up very early lately, and I realised that a good walk by the sun could be the best start for a summer day. I also hoped it would warm myself up enough to brave the cold water and bathe in the sea, which I haven't risked doing for more than 5 years and I miss so much.

Once I got to the Marina, I decided to keep walking by the undercliff walk that goes until Saldean (around 4.5km). After I passed the marina, having walked another 500m, I saw on bit of beach that had been stripped from the pebbles after the previous high tide. Of course, this was my chosen spot for a little bit of sunbathe and a possible swim trial. However, just before I headed to my little private beach, I saw a curious object coming off a piece of chalk that fell from the cliff. It was almost as white as the chalk itself, but not quite so, and its shape was so round that I initially though that it could be an egg.
I picked up the piece of chalk with the funny object in it and went to the beach to wash and clear the object from the soil, using a broken shell as tool to carve my treasure off. After the object was cleaned, it looked like some sort of broken-smashed-deformed shell. Egg shell? No idea.

curious object - Echinoid fossil
I started a research all around the internet see what it could be. I knew the cliffs by the marina go back 85 million years but there was no previous record of eggs.

I did not free the object completely from the chalk as I didn't want to break it into pieces.

The next day, I headed to the same spot. Unfortunately, my lovely sandy beach was covered in pebbles this time. Nevertheless, my curiosity was pointing to the cliffs. After spending sometime "scavenging" rocks, this time with the help of a few household tooIs, I found a few other curious objects - among them, another funny egg thing. This time, however, using a magnifying glass, it was possible for me to see patterns on the shell.

echinoid fossil
Back home, using dentist tools and vinegar, as suggested by some other hunters, I could give a better cleaning to the object and after some more research, I finally solved the mystery of the funny egg - it was an echinocorys Leske from the Upper Cretaceous.

Although they are extremely common around the South East coast, I was so impressed with my finding that I decided to go further - further west and further hunting - to the famous Friars' Bay, in Peacehaven, just 20 minutes by bus from Brighton.

Friars' Bay

This happened a week after the last hunt and as a novice on the field, I forgot to check the tide table for the area. As a result, I ended up arriving on the high tide, making it impossible to approach the beach and the cliffs unless if I decided to dive, which was not an option. Pity...the place is gorgeous.

I decided, then, to walk by the cliffs - the have their undercliff walk as well, but very scary and with a huge wall struggling to hold the chalk monster.
undercliff walk - Peacehaven

Almost getting to the end of the pathway, I noticed a single little pebble beach - th only part not completely covered by the sea, maximum 6 square metres in size.

pebble beach
I went there and set for 20 minutes. These are the pebbles I found around me.

unrecognised fossils
Unfortunately, the weather has changed again. Now, I just wait in the hope for a good sunny day in a day in which the low tide coincides with my available time.

I wish I could work on harder rocks put for now, I can only deal with the easily manageable chalk chunks that fell from the cliff.

To be continued...

unrecognised fossils